A strike team approved by the Biden administration is set to arrive at WellSpan York Hospital on Jan. 3 to help the hospital and its Emergency Medical Services increase hospital capacity amid continued spikes in COVID-19 cases.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced on Wednesday that the federal government identified hospitals in York and Scranton to receive help through a strike team being deployed to the two cities in early January.
The strike teams, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are expected to stay in Pennsylvania for 30 days, where they will help Scranton Regional Hospital and WellSpan York increase acute care capacity by opening approximately 30 additional acute care beds between the two locations.
The teams will also increase general medical and surgical beds for COVID-19 positive patients. Separate EMS strike teams will be deployed in York and Scranton to support the increased hospital capacity.
“This federal support will help alleviate pressure felt throughout the health system so there is more capacity to treat people who need hospital care,” said Randy Padfield, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. “We will continue to work with our county emergency managers to ensure needed resources are met on a local level throughout the commonwealth.”
On Tuesday, the health department announced that between Monday, Dec. 20, and Sunday, Dec. 26, the daily average number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania was 9,979. During that week, the number of vaccines administered was down 31.1% from the previous week.
COVID-19 positive cases began to spike in Pennsylvania at the end of November, reaching as high as 14,657 on Dec. 27—the highest number of same-day COVID-19 cases yet.
That spike has been felt by WellSpan Health, which has been caring for the highest number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients at one time since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are fortunate that a team of clinical resources will be deployed from FEMA to support patient care across the system,” WellSpan wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “We look forward to learning more about the deployment in the coming days and preparing for the team’s arrival. “